SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter have removed an influence operation from their networks that promoted U.S. foreign policy interests abroad, according to a report on Wednesday by researchers from the Stanford Internet Observatory and the research company Graphika.
It was the first time that an influence campaign pushing U.S. interests abroad had been discovered and taken down from the social media platforms. The operation, which ran for almost five years on eight social networks and messaging apps, promoted the views, values and goals of the United States while attacking the interests of Russia, China, Iran and other countries, the researchers found.
The accounts behind the operation often posed as news outlets or took on the personas of people who didn’t exist, posting content in at least seven languages, including Russian, Arabic and Urdu. The posts criticized countries like Russia for engaging in “imperialist wars” in Syria and Africa, while praising American aid efforts in Central Asia and Iraq.
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